Monday, June 7, 2021

Electric cars

I had the privilege of swapping several emails with the author of Mostly Cajun.

"Tanker" is a first-class electrician and engineer.

We were discussing the implications of widespread adaptation of electric vehicles and how "the grid" would have to change to support the additional demand.

The short answer is "much more of everything".

The longer answer is "The powers that be are engaged in a bait-and-switch. They are selling us a fantasy with the intention of changing our behaviors"

Let's just run down one blind-alley: Generation.

Generating electricity with fossil fuels is not any "greener" than running internal combustion engines. Furthermore, adding conventional capacity takes years to get to the point of generating the first salable Megawatt. So the fantasy is that the extra electricity will come from wind and solar.

The problem is WHEN that energy is generated. Solar generated electricity is abundant when the sun is shining, exactly when vehicles are in work-place parking lots or driving around. Pulling into your garage at 6:00 PM in December and charging your vehicle over-night is not an option with solar (the more scalable of the two Green technologies).

The obvious solution is to have TWO electric vehicles. One on the charging station through the day while you tool around in the other.

But since most people cannot afford two vehicles it will force car-pooling.

Car-pooling forces people to conform. No more side trips to the big-box store for a box of nails or 2-by-4s. No more working sporadic hours. People also confide secrets on long, boring commutes. 

The other obvious solution is for people to move back into cities. Living in a city changes people. Out in the sticks we can be ourselves and have interesting hobbies. In the city we must streamline because there are so many (unwanted) opportunities for friction. To avoid the bumps and grinds we conform and become like everybody else.

The Elite do not see the electrical-grid/electric vehicle conundrum as a bug, they see it as a feature. 

The Elite fear people whose behaviors cannot be predicted and controlled. They fear people like me and many of my readers. They consider us enemies to be conquered.

*Note: All errors, if any, are mine and due to my caveman understanding of how electricity works. Mostly Cajun did his best to educate me but he didn't have much to work with.


  1. There was a pretty good 3 part discussion of electrical vehicles in the Survivalblog web site this past week. I had no idea that A/C had such a dramatic effect on range, but it makes sense why it does.

    I notice electric tractor trailer hauling and planting groups are hardly seen. Heavy weight hauling, especially in soft ground must be very energy sapping.

    Its going to take some time for this technology to catch up to Real Life. No interest in changing for me for the moment.

  2. Electric vehicles are cool, but the technology has not caught up with the practical application. Large scale use is simply unworkable at this time. Maybe in several decades, but not today. Our petro industries have, over the years, proven to be extremely efficient at delivering energy to the consumer, in a way that meets demand and makes our lives better.

    For most of human existence, the wind powered every navy and merchant fleet on the globe. That is no longer the case, and hasn't been for a hundred years. For most of human existence, man's mobility was limited to how far a person or animal could walk in a day. The internal combustion engine changed all that.

  3. Electric car range and capability have not significantly increased in the last 100 years; internal combustion range and capability has increased many times.

    As mentioned above, there are few electric trucks or heavy use vehicles around, and those that do exist are hybrid, not pure electric. The exception is battery powered mining vehicles that have ENORMOUS battery banks which they swap throughout the day. They move short distances at slow speed and have to watch their charge carefully.

    A big issue few talk about is distribution - the power grid can't support charging any electric cars. I find it hypocritical that those who are against any new infrastructure blithely assume that power companies will easily and quickly increase distribution capacity to meet demand... it's new infrastructure and they WILL oppose it.

    1. Whatever equipment you are using to post this comment demonstrates the extreme ignorance of its contents. From the newest IPhone 27 with its lithium battery to the most decrepit 286 with its precision controlled hard drives motors. Batteries, motors, controllers, and charging have improved massively in the last century. All of these improvements have been applied to electric vehicles.
      All engineering is trade offs, the heavy mining vehicles went electric early, because range was not as important as torque and emissions in enclosed spaces. Long range transport will be the last to go electric, range and refueling are by far the most important factor, and even a 1% loss is big money.

    2. Batteries are getting worse (rater materials that are costly and environmentally damaging to mine) and more toxic.

      Nuclear waste is safer.

  4. It's awesome that at the same time they're pushing the adoption of electrical vehicles, they're also pushing at the same time to reduce reliable power generation.

    Where all the electricity will come form to power all these cars in addition to existing requirements is never explained. Not to mention as you say the current grid can't support them.

    Hope in Rainbows and Unicorn farts is not a valid power replacement plan.

  5. On the generation side, it's is better for power plants to run at a continuous rate, rather than ramp up and down. Nuclear especially has a problem with changing demand and lag. The theory is as power
    use drops overnight, all the extra can go to charging cars. That being said I don't see a lot of evidence that the powers that be are building the grid to handle this, but lots of short term greenwashing programs.

  6. I'll consider an electric car when I can get one with 400 mile range on a full charge that can be recharged to 300 miles in 5 minutes at charging stations found on every street corner. IOW, not in my lifetime.

  7. "Generating electricity with fossil fuels is not any "greener" than running internal combustion engines."

    In fact, it's worse. Since most U.S. electricity is generated with coal, electric vehicles can be properly viewed as coal powered.

    Additionally, you must use more energy input to generate the electricity than you would use to power the vehicle with liquid fuels. The Second Law of thermodynamics is not negotiable.

    Outside of a few very specialized applications, electric vehicles are a dumb idea - which is why they must be subsidized. That alone tells you all you need to know.

    1. I'm not so sure about that efficiency argument.

      Thermodynamically, big coal burning power plants run close to 50% thermal efficiency. ICE are down closer to 30% efficient, if memory serves.

      Feel free to point me to the contrary. My recollected info may be out of date.

      And it's a lot easier/cheaper to run high voltage conductors than it is pipelines, fuel barges, and tanker fleets. Refineries use a fair amount of the BTUs that they bring in as feedstock too. It's all interconnected though. Coal trains run on diesel. So do the fleets of gasoline tanker cars coming out of the New Jersey refineries. Look at the railyards of Alexandria, and you'll see hundreds of methanol tanker cars heading to NJ to blend with gasoline, I'm guessing. But high voltage transmission has an energy cost as well. It's a messy system with all sorts of ways to draw boundaries for energy balances.

      I'll be happy to agree about the limited usefulness of EVs, and equally happy to condemn the tax credits subsidizing wealthy individuals virtue signalling Teslas.

    2. It is true that hydrocarbon-fueled power-generation is marginally more efficient than hydrocarbon fueled transportation is. I'm not sure though, once a conservation-of-energy calculation is made (considering all losses within the system), that an electrical vehicle charged by a gas-fired generating plant is more efficient than a ICE-powered vehicle.

      Drilling rigs, during the course of my career, went from nearly all direct diesel-powered (so-called 'mechanical rigs') to silicon-controlled-rectifier rigs with all electrical motors driving the machinery. Nice, quiet, and loads of power. There's no doubt electrical motors provide superior powerbands for drilling rigs and heaving machinery.

      But that's heavy machinery; it doesn't translate to vehicles that must be light and sturdy enough to withstand the pounding on and off road. And it's very difficult to carry electrons in a can when you run low on juice, out in the woods.

    3. You'll get 100% power with the last ounce of gas when you floor the accelerator. You'll hit the wall at full speed.

      Batteries will fade off as they deplete. And they fade off as the temperature drops. Something to keep in mind if you live up in the North country. And a little starting ether isn't going to get it going.

      There are plenty of good rural reasons to avoid EVs. Like the old bumpersticker used to say "Try hauling hay and horses with a hybrid."

      It's hard to beat the convenience and performance of liquid hydrocarbon fuels. It just is.

      Another checkmark against EV's and coal-fired electricity generation .. if you're the type to worry about carbon dioxide emissions ... is that burning coal creates a lot more CO2 per BTU produced than does burning gasoline or diesel or propane or natural gas.

  8. The entire so-called Green New Deal is a chimera. It is a mirage. It can never happen as envisioned. Our current power grids do not begin to have the generating capacity to recharge 50 or 100 million electric cars daily. For several reasons. One, there would need to be hundreds of new coal or natural gas power plants constructed and brought on line. This is not happening now, and there is no sign it will happen in the foreseeable future.

    Solar and wind is unreliabme and as such is not going to fill the gap. There is no sun at night, and the wind does not blow continuously. As a result, you must have conventional power on 24/7/365 standby. Even if people were willing to accept gigantic solar arrays and huge wind turbines everywhere, it would still not be capable of generating more than 10-15% or our CURRENT power needs, let alone the additional power needed to recharge tens of millions of electric cars every day. And by the way, solar and wind power generation is frightfully expensive compared to conventional coal and gas fired power generation. And those solar arrays and wind turbines do not last indefinitely. They eventually wear out and must be replaced. And then properly disposing of them is a whole new problem that is yet to be addressed.

    The rare earth metals from which the batteries are made require truly massive amounts of strip mining and ground water pollution to produce. Up to this point, the bulk of it has been produced in China. What happens if China decides to cut us off? Even if they don't, to produce tens of millions of electric cars would require that we accept massive strip mining and pollution here in the U.S. on a scale that would dwarf what has been done to mine coal.

    And the batteries that power electric cars don't last forever. They eventually wear out and must be replaced. And the worn out batteries are highly toxic, and cannot just be thrown into a landfill.

    These are just some of the problems, it is by no means an all inclusive list. As usual, the Greenie Weenies do not truly know or understand ACTUAL science.

  9. Coming full circle. Maybe it was never the Green-Weenie's intention that it SHOULD work. Maybe the plan is to remove all viable alternatives and herd us into the equivalent of Manhattan.

    1. I'm convinced that the smart ones know this, and that is indeed their plan.

      But the bulk of the True Believers aren't smart. They just don't know any better and live in fantasy land.

  10. Well, OK, for the sake of argument I'll agree that "pure electric is wonderful, the wave of the future and anyone opposed to it is "___________".

    So, how are the underground trains in subways to be powered?

    "Well, Unknown 4B, you idiot, they're already electric."

    Yes, but WHERE does that electric come from,and how does it get to the cars?

  11. Its about the money and control. They will tax us to death and tax credit the industry for offset until they can't


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